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Today @ Sam

SHSU Update For Week Of Nov. 25

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Ninety-Second Tree Ceremony To Light Up Plaza

Sam Houston State University will celebrate the spirit of the holiday season during the 92nd Annual Tree of Light Ceremony on Tuesday (Nov. 27).

2010 Tree of Light CeremonyUniversity President Dana Gibson will speak at the ceremony before lighting the official SHSU tree at 6 p.m. in Bearkat Plaza.

The event will include performances by the Orange Pride Dance Team and University Choir, as well as hot chocolate, hot wassail, gingerbread and cookies for attendees.

“The Tree of Light Ceremony is really a program at the ‘heart’ of what Sam Houston State University is all about, bringing Bearkats together,” said Brandon Cooper, associate director for Student Activities. “It’s a program that the university has hosted for over three quarters of SHSU’s existence in an effort to bring students, faculty and staff and alumni together.”

In addition, the Department of Student Activities will collect canned goods at the event for a food drive to benefit the Good Shepherd Mission.

Students can receive a free T-shirt, while supplies last, with the donation of two canned good items.

The Bearkat community is also encouraged to bring an ornament to decorate the tree before or during the ceremony. All SHSU students, organizations, faculty and staff are invited to participate.

Also in the spirit of sharing, this year’s ceremony will be live streamed online through the Tree of Light website, which is receiving a “facelift” this year, including interactive games and activities.

“SHSU has collaborated with The Woodlands Center as well, who will be showing the live feed so that students there also can share in the tradition,” Cooper said.

The Student Activities department will highlight the history and tradition of the Tree of Light with a photography exhibit in the Lowman Student Center Art Gallery, Nov. 26-30.

For more information on the ceremony or exhibit, contact Student Activities at 936.294.3861 or studentactivities@shsu.edu.



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Beto Lecture To Examine Gang Membership

Scott DeckerScott H. Decker, a foundation professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, will present “Life Course Perspectives on Gang Membership: Walter Miller and the Lost Gang Project” as part of the Beto Chair Lecture series on Wednesday (Nov. 28).

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Criminal Justice Center’s Kerper Courtroom, Decker, a leading gang researcher, will discuss his latest study updating the first nationally funded gang outreach project in Roxbury, Mass., in the 1950s.

Led by cultural anthropologist Walter Miller, the project chronicled the day-to-day experiences of nearly 500 gang members in a neighborhood a few miles south of Fenway.

In addition to publishing the results of Miller’s initial study in an online book titled City Gangs, Decker and two ASU faculty members received a grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a follow-up study on the gang members.

The study involves collecting and analyzing criminal records and conducting interviews to gain a better understanding of how joining and leaving a gang influenced life course behaviors, including marriage, college careers, and crime. The project also will analyze contact cards from social workers to see how the gang members’ social networks influenced their actions.

Decker’s research interests include criminal justice policy, gangs, violence, and juvenile justice.

He is the author or co-author of 15 books, three of which have won major awards in the criminal justice field, and has produced more than 150 research articles.

Decker recently was invited to speak to national leaders during a White House conference on gang violence prevention and control attended by dignitaries such as U .S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; justice department officials; directors of several prominent gang prevention programs; and police chiefs and mayors.

This year, Decker was recognized as an American Society of Criminology "fellow," and he is a fellow in the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, with which he also earned the Bruce Smith Jr. Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to criminal justice in an academic or professional endeavor.

In addition, he was recently honored by the Emerald Literati Network for research on gangs and received the Highly Commended Paper Award in 2012.

Decker earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in criminology from Florida State University and his bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in Indiana.

For more information, contact the College of Criminal Justice publications coordinator Beth Kuhles at 936.294.4425.



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Real Talk To Provide Tips For Getting Federal Jobs

Some of the most coveted jobs in criminal justice are in the federal government for high profile agencies like the FBI, DEA and Homeland Security. But there are 15 cabinet departments and more than 100 independent agencies in the U.S. government that offer employment.

To help students prepare for those opportunities, career counselor Michelle Meers and VetSuccess campus counselor Roberta Ardoin will present “Managing the Maze of Federal Job Searches” on Tuesday (Nov. 27), at 3 p.m. in CJava Café as part of the Real Talk w/CJ series.

The two will review the USA Jobs site as well as expectations for applications and the federal resume format. They also will highlight the federal human resources process.

Meers’s focus will be on the many types of federal government employment available in the criminal justice field, emphasizing the many agencies that offer internships to help get students’ feet in the door.

In addition, she will discuss the importance of early preparation in applying for federal criminal justice jobs or internships because of the long lead times needed for background investigations and the competitive nature of the jobs.

Ardoin will discuss the benefit of veteran and disability preferences when applying for federal jobs. She will review the overall scoring system used for applicants in the process and provide valuable insight into the federal employment system.

Meers earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Texas A&M in 1992 and her Master of Arts degree in clinical psychology from SHSU in 1995.

In 2001, she accepted a job in SHSU’s Career Services, for which she provides career counseling, interprets career assessments, and assists students with their transition to the professional world by helping them with resumes, interview skills, and other career related development areas.

Ardoin earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in psychology, from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Ardoin currently works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a VetSuccess on campus counselor at SHSU, in which she works with veterans on accessing educational benefits, vocational assessments, healthcare benefits, medical and mental health referrals, job placement, veteran-specific services and community resources.



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Rock Musical’s Provocative Tale To Take Stage At SHSU

The Sam Houston State University department of theatre and musical theatre will present the Tony Award-winning “Spring Awakening,” an alternative rock musical about the complications and confusions of coming of age, Wednesday through Saturday (Nov. 28 through Dec. 1).

Show times for the play, written by Steven Sater, with music by Grammy Award nominated singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik, are at 8 p.m. each day, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, in the University Theatre Center's Erica Starr Theatre.

Adapted from the controversial 1891 drama by German playwright Frank Wedekind and set in late 19th century, “Spring Awakening” follows a group of angst-ridden teenagers—Wendla Bergmann (Victoria Villareal), Moritz Stiefel (Brandon Whitley), Melchior Gabor (Gustavo Gomez) and their peers—as they struggle to understand the meaning of sexuality and violence in a oppressive, repressed society where adults refuse to answer any hard questions.

Considered provocative when it was first written and consequently banned from the stage, it is still very provocative today with its frank portrayals of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.
“Although ‘Spring Awakening’ was written at the turn of the century, with the way our world is changing so fast, I think the story is really relevant to us today as well,” said director Greg Graham, an SHSU alumnus.

“It’s important to educate our youth in all ways, not just with textbooks and math problems. They need an education in life,” Graham said. “I think that’s why this show exists. It is certainly a deep piece, but it’s important. It’s real life.”

Rounding out the cast are Taylor Beyer, Seth Cunningham, Shanae’a Moore, Joseph Redd, Daniel Rosales, Danielle Turner, Caleb White and Audrey Wilson.

The production crew also includes Jacob Carr, musical director; Kelsey Sapp, stage manager; Eric Marsh, lighting designer; Andrew Harper, sound designer; and Liz Freese, set designer. Keith Pitts, another SHSU alumnus, is also returning for this production to design the costumes.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for students, and the group rate is $10.

For more information, call the University Theatre Center Box Office at 936.294.1339.



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Events To Highlight Student Musicians

Sam Houston State University’s Brass Choir and jazz groups will share a variety of diverse tunes during two concerts Wednesday (Nov. 28) and Thursday (Nov. 29).

The fall SHSU Brass Choir Concert will kick off the series at 7:30 p.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Concert Hall.

The group will perform such selections as “Percy Grainger's beautiful rendition of ‘Irish Tune from County Derry,’ Rayner Brown's energetic and fast-paced ‘Fantasy-Fugue,’ and Fisher Tull's colorful and rich ‘Soundings,’” said Randy Laran, SHSU Brass Choir director.

“In addition to providing students with a night of music, this event illustrates leadership and devotion to one's craft,” he said. “The SHSU Brass Choir is completely run by students and is made up of students from the School of Music who volunteer their Friday afternoons to rehearse with an ensemble dedicated to performing at a professional level of musicianship.”

The event is free and open to the public.

On Thursday (Nov. 29), assistant professor of jazz studies Aric Schneller will direct SHSU’s premier Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Lab Band in a concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the GPAC Concert Hall.

Joining the two ensembles will be special guests Dekaney High School Jazz Cats, directed by Trent Cooper and Ramsey Hampton, and 2012 SHSU alumnus Robby Yarber on trumpet. Yarber currently is playing assistant lead/second trumpet in the Grammy-nominated University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band and was formerly lead trumpet in the summer 2012 Disney All-American Jazz Band.

“We’re very fortunate to have such a talented high school band join us,” Schneller said. “Part of our mission at SHSU is to do outreach projects with our surrounding community and spread music education and recruit fine young musicians. The positive interaction between our SHSU students and the Dekaney High School students is what this concert is all about.”

Schneller’s “Jazz Improvisation” class will demonstrate their abilities with an instrumentation that encompasses the traditional jazz compliment of saxophones, trombones, trumpets, and piano, but adds in harp, French horn, tuba, and vibraphone into the mix.

“We have a very unusual instrumentation in this year’s class with the addition of harp and French horn, but they’re a welcome voice in the world of jazz,” Schneller said.

The evening’s program will also feature pieces from different eras and reveal influences from other genres.

“One tune, ‘In The Tradition,’ is really fast, up-tempo and modal/McCoy Tyner sounding,” Schneller said. “Another piece, ‘Evergreen,’ by Barbara Streisand and Paul Williams is from the movie ‘A Star Is Born’ and will feature SHSU Jazz Ensemble’s Brian Fincher on flugel horn and scream trumpet. It’s a classic Streisand tune made famous back in the late ’70s, early ’80s.”
Tickets are for $15 adults, $12 for senior citizens, and $5 for SHSU students.

To make reservations or purchase tickets, call the GPAC Box Office at 936.294.2339 or visit shsu.edu/cofamc/boxoffice.



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Museum To Celebrate Holidays With Family-Friendly Events

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum will celebrate family this holiday season, returning to the “simpler” 19th century values for the Houston Family Christmas on Saturday (Dec. 1), from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event will include replication of the Houston family’s era through decorations and food, and allowing attendees to make items similar to those made by the Houston children, while emphasizing the family aspect of the holidays, just as the Houston family would have, according to museum marketing coordinator Megan Buro.

Baked goods will be available, including an assortment of gingerbread, wassail and cake, and a rum sauce made by museum historical interpreter Helen Belcher.

“We will be cooking. The house will be open and people will have the opportunity to step inside, so you can enjoy your gingerbread by the fire, experiencing Christmas like the Houston family would,” said Danielle Brissette, another museum historical interpreter.

Attendees can participate in a butter-making class, taking home the final product or applying it to their gingerbread, as well as various classes such as woodworking and whittling. There will also be a spinner, a potter, and a blacksmith on the grounds.

“When you come you should definitely dress for the weather,” Brissette said.

The famed Woodland Home will be open for touring for the first time ever during this event and will have a special guest, Santa, as a resident offering pictures and granting Christmas wishes. The Woodland Home is where the Houston family lived until 1859, when Gen. Houston ran for governor of Texas and won.

“Traditionally, opening the home and Eliza’s kitchen has been very popular; adults and children come to see Santa, they love drinking a little wassail and eating the gingerbread amidst the decorated rooms in the home. It’s a great way to start to start the season’s celebrations,” Belcher said.

SHSU’s Walter P. Webb Historical Society also will stroll the grounds in traditional dress during the event, greeting patrons and answering any questions about the history of Gen. Sam Houston and his family.

Admission to the Houston Family Christmas is free.

For more information about the event, contact the museum marketing coordinator Megan Buro at 936.294.3839.



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Book Published By SHSU Gets Big ‘Press’

Walking Home coverSarah Cortez’s memoir “Walking Home: Growing Up Hispanic in Houston,” which was published by Sam Houston State University’s Texas Review Press in August, has been receiving plenty of good press on her own.

The book was recently highlighted in a review by the Houston Chronicle, and Cortez was also featured earlier this fall on the award-winning website blog La Bloga, the most popular and respected among Latino authors, Cortez said.

The 80-page “Walking Home” has been called a “ground-breaking, mixed genre memoir journeys from the soil of Texas farmland near Floresville to the shrimpers’ nets of the Gulf Coast, near Matagorda” featuring three generations of Hispanic families.

Cortez tells the Houston Chronicle she does something revolutionary in the memoir—she claims the space of faith and belief by recounting her and her parents' lives through the lens of their Catholicism.

“The book's cover—a stained-glass image of the Virgin holding the kingly Christ child—serves as the prism through which much of the narrative unfolds,” reviewer Jill Carroll writes. “She tells of the faith of her grandmother and mother, their devotion to the Virgin, the miracles of healing and help they experienced and the way these stories were passed down in family lore to Cortez and others over decades. Her parents' faith is woven into their commitment to public service, something Cortez says motivated much of her own work as a police officer.

“Second, Cortez tells of her and her family's conscious as well as unconscious lives, the latter made up mostly of unlived dreams. Children, lovers, husbands, homes, adventures—some real, some dreamed, some actualized, most not—enliven the short vignettes that make up the book's first half,” Carroll continues. “After a few chapters, you won't care if the stories were realized or unrealized dreams; they matter.”

To read the full review, visit chron.com/life/houston-belief/article/Memoir-Faith-family-and-being-Hispanic-in-4021281.php, and to read her interview by La Bloga, visit labloga.blogspot.com/2012/11/sarah-cortez-interview.html.

Cortez’s next book “Cold Blue Steel,” about her experiences as a Houston policewoman, will be published soon by the Texas Review Press.



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Teachers Dissect Criminal Justice In Prime Time

Forty-six high school criminal justice instructors got a reality check on various aspects of crime during an annual training at the College of Criminal Justice.

Teachers study bullet wound impacts to the skull in the lab. —Submitted photo

“Criminal Justice in Prime Time: Truths and Misconceptions in the Media” was designed for teachers to dispel the myths about crime and the media, gangs, forensic DNA, women in criminal justice, capital punishment, skeletal remains, and photography. The two-day training included teachers from across the state and provided ready-made lessons for their classrooms.

The presentations were given by professionals in the field and faculty members from Sam Houston State University with expertise in particular areas.

Officer Eric Vento, from the Houston Police Department Gang Task Force, and Everett Harrell, from the Huntsville Independent School District Police, gave teachers an eye-opening presentation on gangs and their growing presence in schools.

“Some of these gang members have no father figure and other kids are being bullied and are looking for protection,” Vento said. “It’s a huge problem, and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

Kids are entering gangs as early as elementary school, and their gang affiliations are often reflected in their music, clothing, accessories, tattoos, hand signs, graffiti, doodles, and writing. Many students are openly displaying their gang affiliations in school in the numbers, letters, or symbols that they use.

Teachers are on the front line not only to help identify gang members, but also to turn kids’ lives around by serving as a positive role model, according to Harrell.

Many of the fights on campus are actually gang initiations, and females often are inducted into gangs by having sex with a gang member.

Teachers also learned about the basics of DNA and forensic anthropology and how they are applied to criminal cases. Unlike the CSI series, cases are not solved in an hour, and many of the processes are very complex.

Melissa Tackett-Gibson, an instructor with the College of Criminal Justice, discussed how the media portrays children as tragic victims or evil monsters.

With all the hype over children who are murdered, only a small percentage of these homicides are committed by strangers. Murder by children is also a very rare occurrence, with only 27,000 homicides between 1980-1997 committed by juveniles, ages 14 to 17.

There is also a dichotomy that occurs with children—On one hand, children are being sexualized like adults and, on the other, they are being protected into late adolescents by “tiger Moms” or “helicopter parents,” Tackett said.

“Our need to protect our children is far more than it has been historically,” she said. “Children are far, far more likely to be abused, harmed, or murdered by family or friends.”

Other discussions included how advances in biotechnology can impact human DNA identification; how the TV show “Bones” misrepresents what can be determined by skeletal remains, different takes on crime scene photography, myths and realities about capital punishment, and women in law enforcement.

“Badges come in gold or silver, not pink or blue,” said Rita Watkins, executive director of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. “Policing is a challenging and rewarding profession limited only by the abilities of the individual officer. There are thousands of successful women in policing today. As more women have entered the profession, there is greater acceptance among their peers and the public.”



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Today@Sam Seeks Spring Calendar Info

The University Communications Office is now collecting information on campus events for its fall calendar pages.

Departmental calendars or events can be sent to today@sam.edu or jenniferg@shsu.edu or faxed to 294.1834. Please include the date, location and time of the event, as well as a brief description and a contact person.

Information collected for the Today@Sam calendar pages, at shsu.edu/~pin_www/calendars/, is used by various media outlets, as well as the Communications Office for news stories and releases.

All information, including story ideas and update items for Today@Sam, should be sent a minimum of a week in advance of the event in order to make necessary contacts and write a story.

To see a full list of the Today@Sam submission guidelines, or to access submission forms for news or feature stories, calendar submissions, or hometown releases, visit shsu.edu/~pin_www/guidelines.html.

For more information, call 936.294.1836.



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Submit Update Items Here

In order to assist members of the Sam Houston State University community in publicizing events, the SHSU Communications Office (Today@Sam) is now requesting that students, faculty and staff submit information about events, accomplishments or ideas for feature stories online.

Submission criteria and guidelines, including deadlines, have now been placed online, at https://www.shsu.edu/~pin_www/guidelines.html. This information is also accessible through the “Submissions” link in the right-hand navigation on Today@Sam.

From there, those submitting ideas can access forms that will allow them to provide detailed information about their idea, as well as attach event calendars, vitas/resumes or photos, depending on the type of submission.

Ideas submitted to the SHSU Communications Office are directly utilized in several ways: as news stories, “slider” or SHSU home page stories, hometown releases, and on the Today@Sam calendar.

If your submission qualifies for distribution, we will either contact you for more detailed information, or we will edit the information using SHSU/journalistic style and forward the final release to the appropriate media.

All information is verified before release, so please provide complete, accurate and timely information. Please type all responses in appropriate upper and lower cases.

For more information, contact the Communications Office at 936.294.1836 or today@sam.edu.



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SHSU Media Contacts: Julia May, Jennifer Gauntt
Nov. 20, 2012
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu




This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office
Associate Director: Julia May
Manager: Jennifer Gauntt
Located in the 115 Administration Building
Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834

Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu.

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